One of my favorite things to do is edit work I wrote years ago, just to see how I would change it now that I have a little more life experience and editorial knowledge. I wrote the following piece for Tremr.com about three years ago, but I still think it’s kind of funny. I gave it a fresh edit, and I’d like to share it on the blog as well. So, here goes:
The Seven Different Types of Writers You’ll Likely Find in a Creative Writing Workshop
I sit in my upper level college creative writing class sifting through a stack of flash fiction pieces written by my peers. I am surrounded by a potluck of all kinds, ranging from Dr. Who fan-fiction writers to poets who compose verse after verse on the majesty that is Queen Bey.
Welcome to workshop, where your dreams are crushed, not because your writing is bad, but because those peers whose writing is equally pathetic only have totally un-encouraging things to say. There is so much hostility in this room. We’re all competing to see who is most brilliant. I’d like to introduce you to the 7 different types of characters that you’ll likely find in a creative writing class:
1. The girl who has mistaken this classroom for a therapist’s office.
Her fiction horrifies you with tales of crumbling relationships and dissatisfying childhoods. With every workshop session, you find that you know more than you ever wanted to about her recent breakup and her roommates who just don’t understand her. As her classmate, and not her friend, you wonder what kind of hellish, four-hour-long phone conversations she would trap you in if you actually associated with her in the real world. You’ve seen her cry. She says things like, “This actually happened to me.”
2. Female Basement Creeper
Homegirl hasn’t gone out in the sun in months. Her hair is coarse and thick and she’s covered in it, suggesting that haircuts and shaving might just not be her thing. Maybe it’s for lack of trying, because you don’t see many people in basements, or maybe it’s for warmth in the chilly underground. That’s okay. You can be hairy and still write. Her short stories reflect her choice of habitat with characters that embark on uneventful journeys in which they stay in one room and contemplate Nihilism. She only talks in class when she has to.
3. Male Basement Creeper
The Female Basement Creeper’s counterpart, though they do not speak to each other or even sit on the same side of the room, since they both like drafty corners. They would make such a good couple if they weren’t so devoted to anti-socializing and hiding in basements. He writes science fiction and gets frustrated when no one has any idea what planet he is talking about.
4. A Larry David look-a-like.
Yeah, he’s there. And thank god. Comic relief. He skips class from time to time to avoid reading out loud, or perhaps because he got into a scuffle at a Dodger’s game and lost track of time.
5. The Ingénue
She writes a lot of flowery poetry with phrases like “the starry night sky” and “lips painted red” and “my heart was pounding”. Clearly wanting to step into the female lead of all of her work, this girl has forgotten that Prince Charming doesn’t exist outside of a Disney film and bringing that kind of generic stock fiction to a classroom full of semi-cynical aspiring Hemingways is only going to result in a ceremonial burning of her writing. Stephanie Meyer is her idol. She hopes to produce the next hit YA Romance novel. She puts on mascara in class.
6. Frat Boy in Disguise
He ditched his letters and instead wears one of the few un-branded shirts he owns so that either his fraternity won’t be associated with a pastime that isn’t hyper-masculine, like fiction writing. Or perhaps it’s so that we won’t judge him before we’ve read his stuff. Beneath that nondescript baseball cap is a head that actually contains a few original thoughts. He wouldn’t dare reveal them back at the Frat Castle. This is his dirty little secret. He makes eyes at the Ingenue a lot.
7. The Barista
He’s a little older than the typical college senior, because he took a few years off after high school to try and “make it” in New York. This musician/actor/artist/DJ smells of coffee and patchouli and clearly hasn’t showered in a while. His writing serves an ode to his beatnik lifestyle, the city he used to live in, and his loathing for actually having to pay for an education. He only turns in assignments when the muses move him, not when they are actually due. His band is playing a show tonight at the coffee house where he works. He passed out flyers.
And who am I? That’s write, you get a bonus. A number 8. I’m the girl that brought snacks to class and who is currently taking notes on the assembly of characters sitting in a semi-circle around her, instead of paying attention to the Barista’s lament or the Frat Boy’s poem. I am secretly praying that the professor doesn’t notice I forgot to submit a piece this week. Oh well.